Quote of the Week

Carey’s final project as a film director is Godfarter III (1989), an audition piece for Coppola, who was looking to cast the role of an elderly Mafia don for The Godfather: Part III (1990). Coppola considered Carey too young for the part (and may also have been put off by Carey’s earlier eccentricities on The Godfather). Carey tried to convince the director that he could tackle the role of Don Altobello, but it wasn’t meant to be, and Eli Wallach was eventually cast in the part.

Godfarter III consists mostly of scenes taken directly from the original script by Coppola and Mario Puzo. Romeo Carey recalls, “It was basically a screen test, but you also get to see behind-the-scenes of the making of the screen test and how my father worked with actors. I shot the screen test. I got a call from my father. He said, ‘Bring your camera tomorrow morning, I am going to shoot a screen test for Francis.’ I showed up at his studio the next day with my camera and lights. In a single day, he put the project together, complete with the use of the Hilton Hotel, a limo, props, ten bodyguards in suits for his entrance, and his acting friend Robert Miano. My dad’s intention was to prove to Francis that he could play an 80-year-old Don. (Carey was then 60.) We powdered his face white and sprayed his hair white. In the end, my dad was happy with the screen test and felt satisfied. I shot what he told me to shoot and then I edited the footage for him, and he sent it to Francis. Francis liked it a lot and was interested in my father for the part, but Dad suffered another massive stroke a few days after the shoot.”

– Harvey F. Chartrand, “Timothy Carey: The World’s Greatest Director!”, FilmFax Plus, April/June 2004, No. 102

Godfarter III is available for purchase from Absolute Films

Godfarter III

Quote of the Week

All of Carey’s collected stories to this point are borne of the humility of working class underdogs who dream of artistic expression. There’s Menudo, the 52-year-old Mexican singing cowboy from his teleplay, My Casa Is Yours, who still wants to become a pro soccer player. There’s the title character in Fiore – written with his wife, Doris – a car wash attendant who plays detective in a local murder/necrophilia case to win the reward money for a girl’s art school tuition. In Commercials, another teleplay written with his wife, an ad exec teams up with an anti-establishment, dog-loving street entertainer. Then there’s songwriter Cass Matthews from Greenwood, who finances his 25,000 acres of alligator sanctuary by recording hit pop records in Memphis.

All of these characters constitute a clear autobiography, embarking on impossible schemes, risking public ridicule and physical injury in pursuit of their personal ideals, and none more so than Carey’s alter-ego, The Insect Trainer‘s main character, Guasti Q. Guasti. Guasti represents all of Carey’s loneliness throughout his career, directly tied to the rejection he repeatedly faced amongst those whose art he shared. The booting off of location sets, the months spent developing a character only to be whittled down to a few moments by the time it hit the big screen, doing a screen test and not getting called because someone easier to work with would come in and use Carey’s test as a primer, having idea after idea shot down…these are the elements that went into creating Guasti.

Ara Corbett, “Rebels With a Cause: The Timothy Carey – John Cassavetes Partnership,” Filmfax magazine #56 (May/June 1996)

Quote of the Week

In a letter to Carey (dated January 22, 1994), Ray Carney, a professor of film and American studies at Boston University, wrote:

“Re: The Insect Trainer script–What an extraordinary, weird, wonderful, bizarrely unclassifiable work you’ve created. In the Joycean, Swiftian, Salvador Dalian vein, you violate all of the taboos, cross all of the boundaries, break all of the rules, and–ecstatically–take us to places almost never even dreamt of in drama before. The script is a ‘gas’ in the other sense of the word: It’s hilarious–as well as humanly touching and moving. It’s a celebration of eccentric, non-homogenized, non-normalized humanity. An expression of love for the lost and forgotten feelings and impulses of life. A recognition of some of the sadness and loneliness of all originals, pioneers, inventors. In short, you break up the mental and spiritual constipation that afflicts both art and life. You free the spirit. The laughter and thoughtfulness you provoke, if we let ourselves be affected by them, shake us out of our zombie-like trances of conformity. This is an awesome piece of work. Bravo. Bravissimo!”

Prof. Carney’s letter is a fitting epitaph to the amazing talent and spirit of Timothy Carey.

— Harvey F. Chartrand, “Timothy Carey: The World’s Greatest Director!”, Filmfax Plus magazine #102 (April/June 2004)

Quote of the Week

Today we hear once again from Timothy’s younger brother George Carey, from the unpublished Filmax interview by Harvey F. Chartrand.

Timmy could be a very dominant personality. He always wanted his own way. He took charge, told the actor how he wanted the role to be played. I would say Timmy was a very strong type of director,  fitting his personality. But he seemed to have a good relationship with the people who were acting for him and they seemed to be very happy to be doing the acting. Timmy was definitely very charismatic. He was unique.

Not everybody liked his style. Timmy did a remarkable job with his career, considering. He was very independent, but I don’t think you can be too independent out there, if you want to keep working. Then he ran into other dominant personalities, directors who didn’t like his individual style. He had a number of people who liked his style very much. But there were some who didn’t care much for it. Some of the more established stars didn’t like Timmy’s improvisational approach to scripted scenes. When Timmy was on film, you always knew it. And I don’t know if that was always appreciated. But there were a number of people in the business who seemed to like him and appreciated his unique flair. Other people found it a little irritating.

Filmfax article (not published) by Harvey F. Chartrand, 2003

Quote of the Week

“Loathsome,” “repulsive” and “most socially undesirable” have all been tossed around in various film guides attempting to describe the late character actor Timothy Carey. Renowned for his dominating presence in Stanley Kubrick’s early films The Killing (1956) and Paths of Glory (1957), Carey had the exhibitionism and humility of an aging circus clown, suffering to invest everything he had into even the smallest of bit roles. The sack-shaped giant with the oil spill hair and cadaverous grin died of his third major stroke on May 11, 1994. But what remains unmentioned in reference sources are his humanist spirit, and love for the Average Joe that inspired not only his acting, but his own writing and directing ventures, which were as ridiculous as they were revolutionary.

Ara Corbett, “Rebels With a Cause: The Timothy Carey – John Cassavetes Partnership,” Filmfax magazine #56 (May/June 1996)

Timothy with Ara Corbett, summer of 1992

(photo by Michael Murphy)

Pic of the Day: Directing “A.L.”

Our pic for today is not the usual screen cap from one of Timothy’s films. Instead, it’s a portrait of the artist as a young director. It was taken around the time Tim was attempting to film his script A.L. (which is not only the lead character’s name, but “L.A.” spelled backwards). The year was 1956.

A.L. tells the story of a young man from the Midwest named Al and his pet monkey, temporarily stranded in the labyrinths of Los Angeles without a car, while his wife prepares to give birth to their first child in a nearby hospital. Timothy had apparently filmed the first forty pages of his script before realizing that his lead actor simply didn’t have the chops to carry off the part.

“I’ve seen footage of A.L.,” Tim’s son Romeo told Harvey F. Chartrand in Filmfax magazine, “and it is amazing. Crisp 35mm footage on the freeway. Really cool. The monkey and the Midwestern couple are in it. So A.L. exists, but it hasn’t been cut. Much of it hasn’t even been screened. I have a vault with stacks of film cans of A.L. that I haven’t gone through yet.” Here’s hoping that footage soon sees the light of day.

Quote of the Week

This week’s quote is another one not by Timothy, but about him:

Tweet’s is the complete antithesis to Sinner. This is Dad’s version of what he thought was funny. He learned a lot about filming comedy from watching silent movies. It’s really a showcase for my dad’s acting talent. He incorporated silent film-making techniques into his acting. Silent film acting had to be very physical. That plays to one of my dad’s strengths, the sheer physicality of it… Tweet’s is a total change of pace from Sinner. Comparing Tweet’s to Sinner is like comparing Santa Claus to Satan.”

– Romeo Carey, from “Timothy Carey: The World’s Greatest Director!”, Filmfax Plus magazine #102 (April/June 2004), article and interviews by Harvey F. Chartrand